Diplomacy&Commerce Croatia #52 Summer issue

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Photo: Samir Cerić Kovačević
British Embassy Zagreb



EUROVILLA Broj 1 u Hrvatskoj

već više od 20 godina.

EUROVILLA Broj 1 u Hrvatskoj

već više od 20 godina.

BOBAN SPASOJEVIĆ, Magazine Director Croatia and Editor in Chief boban@diplomacyandcommerce.hr

VLADIMIR DUDAŠ C e n t r o b i r o Art Director


Representative for the Republic of Croatia ASPEKT obrt za savjetovanje i usluge

Owner of the license/ magazine name Diplomacy&Commerce




BOBAN SPASOJEVIĆ Director and Editor-in-Chief

Dear readers,

The hot summer days are here, where meteorologists and experts predict that all previous records will be broken, and also anticipate occurrences that, for most of us, were only things that happen to others (floods, droughts, tornadoes, various storm cells, etc.). We hear about climate change every day, but honestly, if we take the average temperatures and precipitation over the past 10 years, we will see that it is neither drastic nor tragic. There is a difference, but it is minimal, and it seems to me that we are influenced by the media and sensationalist headlines. Summers, rains, hail, and storms have occurred before, but now, thanks to globalization, we see and learn about them immediately, unlike before.


Hot summer, with an emphasis on “hot” is ongoing for quite some time when it comes to global geopolitics. The conflict in Ukraine shows no signs of abating. Ukraine has started negotiations for EU membership, and a peace conference was held in Switzerland regarding peace in Ukraine, albeit without Russia, which has laid out its conditions for peace, resembling more of an ultimatum. To Russia, it seems the only possible solution is the one they envision, but we all know that’s not feasible, and wars don’t end that way. Conditions on the ground greatly influence both the rhetoric and the resolution of this unjustified war. The West is intensifying sanctions against Moscow and arming Ukraine, while Putin is forming alliances with North Korea and other similar countries. We are also awaiting the new European Commission and new European policies in a challenging future.

It’s hot where it’s always hot, which is the Middle East. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu dissolved the war cabinet. Hamas threatens to attack Cyprus, a member of the EU. There are more and more Palestinians who are hungry, thirsty, sick, with no indication that this will change soon. Global players are pulling their strings without caring about the needs of the common man.

Where the heat doesn’t bother us this summer is in sports. After the football championship in Germany, we are awaiting the Summer Olympics in Paris. The world’s eyes are focused on France. Everyone expects a spectacle but also harbors concerns about possible terrorist attacks and overall security. Nevertheless, we believe in France and its allies who will protect us together from potential incidents.

In between all of this, we bring you our new issue. Alongside the regular topics you love, we also have a special addition, “Focus on Travel” – to stay in line with the hot summer, where we present to you all the relevant elements for enjoyable summer days, from the best destinations and hotels to the little things that make your enjoyment safer and more pleasant.


Despite differences in size and economic development, there is significant potential for continued high-level cooperation, particularly in technology, innovation, and military cooperation, which will further enhance our mutual prosperity and security, for Diplomacy&Commerce says H.E. Nathalie Rayes ambassador of the United States of America to Croatia. We also support the Croatian Armed Forces with their defense modernization goals to make our strong and capable Ally even stronger and more capable, says ambassador Rayes.

USA and Croatia have reached a very high level of mutual relations. How would you rate these relations and which areas of cooperation would you single out as particularly important?

I believe the U.S.-Croatia bilateral relationship has never been stronger

We look forward to ratifying the double taxation treaty soon, which will deepen our economic cooperation and create new opportunities for small companies to cooperate across our borders.

The United States and Croatia have excellent relations. I believe the U.S.-Croatia bilateral relationship has never been stronger. Just in the last three years, the U.S. and Croatia have worked to ratify a treaty to avoid double taxation; to initiate geothermal and renewable en-

greb and Washington. Are there still any areas where you see room for improvement?

We continue to seek areas of further cooperation with the Croatian government as well as more opportunities to enhance our collaboration in technology, and


ergy cooperation that significantly enhanced energy security; to secure visa free travel to the United States; and towards a broad modernization of the Croatian Armed Forces through the acquisition of Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles and Black Hawk helicopters.

It seems that there are no open issues between the official Za-

innovation, increase educational and cultural exchanges, promote people-to-people and business-tobusiness ties to ensure even greater mutual benefits and understanding. We look forward to ratifying the double taxation treaty soon, which will deepen our economic cooperation and create new opportunities for small companies to cooperate across our borders.

Political support, military cooperation, tourism, economy are only part of good relations. As ambassadors of one of the most influential and important countries in the world, how important are numbers to you, what do they show us? What are the figures when it comes to economy and is there room for improving relations and where, bearing in mind the difference in size, population, economic development, investments...?

Numbers are a good starting point, showing the strength of our trade, investments, and tourism ties. Despite differences in size and economic development, there is significant potential for continued high-level cooperation, particularly in technology, innovation, and military cooperation, which will further enhance our mutual prosperity and security. Numbers alone don’t tell the full story of Croatia’s value as an Ally or potential as a regional economic and energy leader. Croatia’s strategic location, history of successful geothermal and hydropow-

er development, and leadership in gas distribution position it as the regional hub for energy security and economic development, and our partnership reflects its importance. Croatia has the capacity to build on its success as the newest EU member by supporting an EU path for its Western Balkans neighbors and modeling the benefits of EU membership, strong democratic institutions, and a free and open society.

Did the fact that visas for entrance of Croatian citizens to the US were cancelled change anything and to what extent, and what opportunities does this bring for the improvement of relations between the two countries?

The Visa Waiver Program is an important recognition of our countries’ shared economic and security interests and Croatia’s designation as the 40th member of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) highlights our close cooperation on these key priorities. In the first two years after Croatia’s ascension to the Visa Waver Program, nearly 40,000 Croatians traveled to the U.S. using the electronic authorization. That figure doesn’t include the additional tens of thousands of Croatians who are traveling on visas they already had or visas for specific purposes, like students and performers. So, I feel confident saying that the Visa Waiver Program has had positive effects on our citizens’ people-to-people connections, as well as for businesses and trade.

Military cooperation within NATO is on a high level, but it is not limited only to the alliance, but mutual cooperation exists as well. In what way are mutual military relations of the two countries still developing?

We support the Croatian Armed Forces with their defense modernization goals to make our strong and capable Ally even stronger and more capable. In addition to the purchase of eight additional Black Hawk helicopters and the refurbishment of 62 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles, we continue to support many other acquisition and modernization efforts. We have worked with the Croatian Armed Forces to enhance their considerable demining capabilities so they can someday clear Croatia’s land and sea of the explosive remnants of war. We continue to deepen our military relationship by sending over 100 Croatian service members to U.S. military training and education programs each year, and through the State Partnership Program with the Minnesota National Guard. Our militaries regularly train together and with our mutual Allies. Croatia is set to host


Exercise IMMEDIATE RESPONSE in 2025, one of our most important exercises in Europe.

Geopolitical situation in the world seems to have never been more uncertain and turbulent. Where do you see the main culprits for this and how should the open issues in different parts of the world (war in Ukraine, war between Israel and Hamas...) be resolved?

Like Croatia, we want Ukraine to win – and we’re committed to helping them do it. We’ve developed the “capability coalitions” – groups of allies and partners who are addressing needs crucial to Ukraine’s defense. Denmark, the Netherlands, and the U.S. are leading the coalition on air

force, Estonia and Luxembourg on information technology, Norway, and the UK on maritime security.  These coalitions are pumping more support into Ukraine right now because the security of Ukraine and Europe is a core interest of ours.

Our government has been focused on a durable end to the war between Israel and Hamas. We want a durable end that brings all the hostages home, ensures Israel’s security, creates a better “day after” in Gaza without Hamas in power, and sets the stage for a political settlement that provides a better future for both Israelis and Palestinians.

The US-China relations are also strained. Could you further explain to our readers what are the

main reasons for this, from your point of view, and what is Washington’s position on the matter?

Under the Biden Administration, the United States revisited our assumptions behind our longstanding China policy.  We determined that the PRC was the only state with both the intent to reshape the international order and the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to do it.   We saw that the PRC sought to “catch up and surpass” the United States in high technology; that it was pursuing the largest peacetime military buildup in history; and that it was more repressive at home and more assertive abroad, including in the South and East China Seas as well as the Taiwan Strait.  We saw the PRC working to make the world more dependent on itself while reducing its own dependence on the world.  And we saw it taking steps to adapt the international system to accommodate its own system and preferences. The United States has continued to deliver on our “invest, align, compete” approach to U.S.-PRC relations.  We’ve made historic investments in the sources of American strength at home, including through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act.  President Biden has placed tremendous focus on deepening our alliances and partners around the world, including our close friends in the EU and NATO.  Intense competition requires intense diplomacy. We are committed to responsibly managing this incredibly important relationship, and ensuring competition does not inadvertently veer into conflict.  In that spirit, we are seeking to maintain open lines of communication with Beijing, even as we continue taking competitive steps to defend our interests and our values – always in close coordination with our allies and partners.

You have recently been in Croatia, in Zagreb. What are your first impressions? You travel around the country a lot, what would you recommend to your friends to see when they come, what food, drinks to try...?

Croatia is beautiful! It is a delight to be surrounded by such breathtaking nature and experience your rich culture. I enjoy travelling to meet our partners throughout the country and hear about their work and see their cities. I have taken my friends to your amazing national parks, historic old towns, and fantastic galleries and museums. Also, Croatian food and wine is exceptional. From štrukli in the north to mussels in the south, I recommend all visitors to Croatia try a little bit of everything.

Top American Education in Croatia

The past nearly 30 years of operating in the local higher education market have been both challenging and rewarding from the start

higher education institution with the longest tradition of offering professional undergraduate programs in Croatia.

RIT‘s education system is designed to adequately prepare students for the global labor market through a multidisciplinary approach to teaching and various forms of experiential learning. Students sharpen both hard and soft skills, testing theory in practice through numerous industry collaborations, including RIT‘s co-op program, one of the largest in the world. At the same time, we entered a market accustomed to the public higher education system, which meant building trust in the quality of the American and private education system within the local community took time. The start was certainly not without challenges – from unequal business conditions for private and public higher education institutions to certain differences in the quality of players in the private higher education market, all of which affect the perception of quality.

Over the past decades, we have built a strong brand recognized for the quality of education and the success of our graduates. Today, more than 3,000 of them lead highly successful careers in local and multinational companies, and government institutions - in more than 50 countries worldwide. They are a true testament to the quality of the educational system that RIT provides. From the beginning, we built our community ‚from within,‘ focusing on an education system centered on student well-being and providing comprehensive support and opportunities for personal and professional development. I am extremely proud that even today, nearly 30 years later, new students come to us based on the recommendations and experiences of alumni, and that graduates remain closely connected to their alma mater – through participation in our advisory boards, guest lectures, student employment, mentorship programs, and numerous other opportunities.

President and Dean of RIT Croatia

As pioneers of private higher education, we introduced many innovations in the form of American higher educational programs that allow students to study in English and obtain two diplomas – Croatian and American, for Diplomacy&Commerce says Dr. Irena Guszak , President and Dean of RIT Croatia. Among other things, Ms. Guszak believes that one of the biggest challenges in the future remains the adequate adaptation of the education system to rapid technological changes.

RIT Croatia has been operating for over 25 years. Today you have more than 830 students in Zagreb and Dubrovnik. As an American college, how challenging and different was it to start working in Croatia, and how do you view the past 25 years? Where is RIT Croatia today?

RIT Croatia, formerly known as the American College of Management and Technology (ACMT), was established in 1997 as a result of collaboration between the then Ministry of Science and Technology and the renowned private American university, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). This makes us the private


In your work, you pay special attention to the needs of students and the needs of employers and he job market, thus ensuring that after graduation, students are well prepared for future careers. You also focus on cooperative education and student exchange to gain more experience and understand diversity. What programs and studies do you currently offer?

RIT Croatia offers American higher education programs:

• Undergraduate programs (4) –graduates obtain both Croatian and American diplomas:

• New Media Design BFA

• Web and Mobile Computing BS

• Global Business Management BS

• Hospitality and Tourism Management BS

As part of lifelong learning activities at RIT Croatia, the Zagreb campus offers Master of Science programs from RIT: Organizational Leadership and Innovation and Information Technology and Analytics.

As I mentioned earlier, a trademark of RIT is experiential learning both in and out of the classroom through the co-op program, which allows students to gain real work experience in their chosen field of study. To date, our students have completed more than 450 years of internships in nearly 5,000 companies worldwide. These experiences not only increase their employability but also help them better understand their career interests and develop key professional skills.

In addition to the Erasmus+ program, RIT‘s student exchange program allows our students to spend a semester at the main RIT campus in New York or at the RIT campuses in Dubai and Kosovo. These opportunities enable them to experience different cultures, broaden their horizons, and improve their English language skills.

You nurture a holistic approach to education based on modern American education. What are the similarities and differences between American and Croatian students in terms of learning methods?

Although there are some differences between international and Croatian students in learning methods, we have noticed many similarities. Both groups of students share a passion for learning and development and are highly motivated to acquire new knowledge and skills. American students often come with an educational background that emphasizes active participation in class, critical thinking, and teamwork. They are used to a participatory learning style that includes discussions, debates, and problem-solving in groups. Croatian students, on the other hand, often come from an education system that places more emphasis on theoretical knowledge and individual work. However, we have noticed that Croatian students quickly adapt to our system, which emphasizes the practical application of knowledge, critical thinking, and an interdisciplinary approach.

Our role is to help all students adapt and adopt the best practices from both systems. For example, through project assignments, case studies, and cooperative education, we encourage students to apply theoretical knowledge in real situations, thereby developing


practical skills and critical thinking. In this context, our holistic approach to education, which combines theory and practice and a multidisciplinary approach to teaching, has proven extremely effective for students from both groups.

In addition to students, the quality and credibility of education are also provided by the teaching staff, professors. How important is the selection of qualified staff, and how would you rate their work, especially in imparting knowledge and life stories? How important do you think the professor-student relationship is?

Choosing competent experts who are excellent in their field and also educators who understand the important role they play in the personal development of students is key to ensuring the quality of our education.

Our faculty members are not only experts in their fields but also experienced practitioners who bring realworld experiences into the classroom. This is extremely important as it allows students to see how theoretical knowledge is applied in the real world. In-

lic and private institutions provide quality higher education. There is an increasing emphasis on the importance of quality education and lifelong learning, which is also highly commendable.

However, there are areas that need improvement to make the system more adaptable to the needs of today‘s dynamic labor market. We need better solutions for the challenges faced by international students in Croatia, whose numbers at RIT Croatia are increasing year by year. Today‘s dynamic environment brings many challenges for everyone. We live in an era where many questions are being raised about artificial intelligence for example. AI is not emerging; it has already happened. Therefore, as an educational institution, we must know how to adequately respond to such challenges and equip future leaders with the knowledge and skills for emerging professions. The days of the premise ‚when you get a job, the employer will teach you how to actually do the job‘ are long gone. Due to increasingly dynamic and disruptive changes, employers are increasingly seeking ‚plug-and-play‘ solutions, which means work experience and an adequate combination of hard and soft skills in students – future employees.

structors are dedicated to continuous professional development, participate in research projects, and collaborate with the industry. Their ability to connect theory and practice helps students better understand complex concepts and develop relevant skills.

In addition to the faculty, I want to highlight the role of our administrative staff. We have built a comprehensive support system that provides an optimal environment for students to develop in desired directions. This system includes various advisors such as admissions specialists, academic advisors, career advisors, student advocates, and more. The main goal is to ensure a high-quality student experience – both in and out of the classroom.

How would you rate the level of higher education in Croatia in general, and is there anything you would change or praise? What do you see as the biggest challenges in education that await us in the future?

Higher education in Croatia has many qualities that deserve praise. There is a strong and high-quality academic tradition, and many pub-

In conclusion, one of the biggest challenges in the future remains the adequate adaptation of the education system to rapid technological changes. Given the speed at which technology is advancing, we are committed to ensuring that our study programs remain relevant and that students acquire the skills they will need in their future careers. This includes continuous curriculum revision, the introduction of new technologies in teaching, and collaboration with industry to ensure that students are well prepared for the future.

Where and how do you see RIT Croatia in the next 25 years?

In the next 25 years, I see RIT Croatia as an influential higher education institution in the region, known for its innovation, quality, and global perspective. We continue to develop our study programs and plan to introduce new ones that will meet future job market needs. Our strategic goals include strengthening international cooperation, increasing the number of international students, and expanding our research activities.

We are committed to developing a community that promotes friendship, cooperation, respect, and continuous learning, continuing to create positive changes in Croatian higher education. Our mission remains to provide high-quality education that prepares students for successful and fulfilling careers in the global market.

Strategic partnership of two countries

Azerbaijan is a key supplier of crude oil to Croatia


Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to Croatia

Energy cooperation is one of the main fields in the relations between Azerbaijan and Croatia, for Diplomacy&Commerce says H.E. Anar Imanov, Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to Croatia. Azerbaijan indeed plays an important role in providing European energy security. This role of Azerbaijan was also underlined by European Commission and in July 2022, during the visit of Ms. Ursula von der Leyen there was signed “A Memorandum of Understanding on Strategic Partnership in the field of energy between


the European Union represented by the European Commission and the Republic of Azerbaijan”.

How would you rate the relations between Croatia and Azerbaijan today and where do you see room for further improvement of those relations?

The relations between Azerbaijan and Croatia are excellent and are

indeed in high level. Two countries are enjoying the relations of strategic partnership since signing of “Zagreb Declaration on strategic partnership and friendly relations between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Croatia” in 2013. In recent years the development of the mutually beneficial cooperation between Azerbaijan and Croatia has been significantly activated. Mutual contacts,

visits, exchanges including those in highest level significantly contributed to development of bilateral relations between two countries. In this regard, I have to especially underline contacts between our leaders, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev and Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia, H.E. Mr. Andrej Plenković. In 2023 they met twice, once in January in Davos and second time during the official visit of Prime Minister Plenković to Azerbaijan in November, 2023.

Discussions held during these meetings made a significant impetus to further development of AzerbaijanCroatia relations. There were of

course more mutual visits including on the level of Deputy Chairmen of Parliaments, Ministers, State Secretaries and the goal of both sides is clear to strengthen and deepen relations of friendship and strategic partnership between our countries. Of course there is always room for improvement. Both sides are set to first of all improve economy-trade cooperation. Our governments have strong intention to diversify economy cooperation and to identify and develop new fields in trade and economy. I am pretty optimistic that we will see positive outcomes of this work soon.

Are there any areas where the two countries have open issues and what are they, and if so, how do you think they could be resolved?

There is only one open issue between our countries and it is what else can be done to further deepen and strengthen bilateral cooperation. If to look at the intensity of mutual visits and important events between our countries, one can see how both sides work hard on bringing our nations even closer.

When it comes to the economy as an important branch for both countries, what do the numbers show us? What is the level of investment, in which areas, in what way?

Well first of all numbers show us that Azerbaijan is a key supplier of crude oil to Croatia and by this plays an important role on supporting Croatia’s energy security. Moreover, the numbers show us that the main field of economy and trade cooperation is energy, what means that there is a necessity to develop bilateral relations in other spheres, to diversify economy and trade cooperation. Both sides are tirelessly working on this and I have no doubt that soon we will see the results. Investment cooperation does not meet much of the potential of our countries and this is also a field which both sides intend to develop.

Prime Minister Plenković visited Baku with an official delegation last year and met with the highest officials. It was said that Azerbaijan is strategically important for Croatia. How do you interpret that statement?

Indeed, Azerbaijan is strategically important for Croatia as Croatia is strategically important for Azerbaijan. We are strategic partners, we support each other in international fora. We are true friends. Each of our countries play an important role in the regions we located and has a lot

to offer each other. During the visit of Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Plenković in November,2023 to Azerbaijan opportunities for developing of relations between Azerbaijan and Croatia in all fields, as well as energy cooperation, which is considered to be the locomotive of our bilateral economic relations, was discussed in detail, and it was decided that the parties would soon hold consultations to exchange views for the development prospects of cooperation in the field of energy in general and gas in par-

but considers that engagement not in the context of replacing gas volumes of whatever origin, but rather in the context of contributing to security of supply arrangements and energy transition process.

Adriatic-Ionian gas pipeline is a big project which needs time and investment to start to be operational in near future. Azerbaijan has been investing in its infrastructure for many years. During the last few years, several states of the Southeast Europe region managed to connect



ticular. And on instructions from the leadership of our countries that a few months after the visit, the parties held in Baku the 3rd meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission on economic cooperation, during which representatives of ministries and organizations of the two countries discussed in detail measures to implement the instructions of our leaders.

Cooperation in de-mining was also discussed. We appreciate Croatia’s gift of specially trained dogs for use in demining activities to Azerbaijan.

Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Andrej Plenković’s visit to Azerbaijan definitely contributed to the development of friendly relations and mutually beneficial cooperation between our countries.

Azerbaijan supplies gas to a huge number of European countries, because at the moment when the supply of Russian gas was suspended or reduced, many European countries turned to Azerbaijan. Croatia is very interested in the Adriatic-Ionian gas pipeline. How far have we come in the implementation of these plans?

Azerbaijan and EU have been successfully cooperating in energy sphere for decades. Azerbaijan has proved to be a reliable partner for Europe ensuring an uninterrupted supply of crude oil and gas notwithstanding challenges of different nature. Azerbaijan recognizes its role in extending its cooperation with Europe on securing additional gas supplies under unprecedentedly challenging circumstances,

2023, new mine zones were created stretching up to 500 kilometers, new mines had been planted in Azerbaijan. Responsibility for that rests with Armenia.

Unfortunately, Croatia, like Azerbaijan, faced the problem of landmines, and despite the passage of more than 30 years, the territory of the country has not yet been completely cleared. As far as I am aware, next year we can expect that the demining activities will be completed in Croatia. There is a large number of experienced companies in Croatia involved in demining field. Although our country cooperates with our Croatian friends in the field of demining, we can increase the volume of collaboration in next few years.

What is current situation in relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and what are prospects of reaching a peace between two countries?

to the Southern Gas Corridor through the upgrading of interconnectors, thereby starting to receive Azerbaijani gas. Hope in soonest future gas from Azerbaijan will reach Croatia as well. In any cases this issue should be a subject of discussions between relevant organisations of both sides.

Croatia offered to help in the process of demining the territory that was affected by the war. How significant is Croatia’s experience to you and how far has this entire process come, is it perhaps over?

Azerbaijan is bearing the brunt of a 30-year long conflict and occupation of its lands by Armenia, suffering from mine pollution problem and stands among the most minepolluted countries of the world. According to initial estimates, roughly 12 percent of the country’s territory is polluted by 1.5 million mines and an unknown number of unexploded ordnances.

Since the end of the war in 2020, 361 of our citizens, mostly civilians, have fallen victim to mine explosion, resulting in 68 deaths and 293 severe injuries. Overall, since the beginning of Armenia’s aggression against Azerbaijan, over 3400 of our citizens have suffered from mines, including 358 children and 38 women. The steady increase in the number of mine victims is associated with Armenia’s refusal to provide the accurate maps of the mines it planted across Azerbaijan’s territory, and with placing booby traps along the roads, cemeteries, and other civilian facilities located behind the former line of contact. From 2020 to

In autumn of 2020, as a result of the 44-day Patriotic War, Azerbaijan liberated its territories and thereby ensured the implementation of the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council, which demanded urgent, complete and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from Azerbaijani territories.

One of the main priorities for Azerbaijan is peace and stability in the South Caucasus. Therefore, when the Second Karabakh War ended Azerbaijani side, despite suffering and losses it faced, despite of complete destruction caused by Armenia in occupied Azerbaijani territories, put forward the proposal of signing of a peace treaty based on 5 principles of international law including mutual respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Currently negotiations between Azerbaijan and Armenia are continuing. In April 2024 extremely important event happened in relations between two sides, when Azerbaijan and Armenia started delimitation and demarcation of state border as a first result of which four Azerbaijani villages which were occupied by Armenia in the beginning of 90s have been returned to Azerbaijan. It was first time when Armenian leadership officially admitted the fact of occupation of Azerbaijani territory and first time when Armenia peacefully agreed to return territories occupied by it. I hope that in soonest future thousands of Azerbaijanis forcefully expelled from those villages will finally return to their homes. So, the mentioned event is significant development in peace process between Azerbaijan and Armenia. I hope more to come.

Croatia ready for the Paris Summer Olympics

If the basketball team qualified as well, our delegation would number about 90 athletes


President of the Croatian Olympic Committee

I am extremely proud of each of our athletes, achieving the Olympic standard is no small feat, and on this occasion I congratulate all of

them, says Zlatko Mateša, president of the Croatian Olympic Committee, for Diplomacy&Commerce. Given its size, Croatia has excellent results and always ranks high in the statistics of Olympic medals won kept by the International Olympic Committee, adds Mateša.

The XXXIII Summer Olympics in Paris will be held from July 26 to August 11, 2024, in the French capital, which will host the Olympics for the third time after 1900 and 1924. Approximately 10,500 athletes from around 200 countries worldwide will be competing in 32

sports. How many Croatian athletes have secured their place in Paris and in which sports/ disciplines?

At this moment, 57 athletes have secured their place in Paris. However, our sports delegation is not yet complete, as we are still awaiting qualifications, for example, in tennis, judo, and basketball. Currently qualified athletes come from individual sports such as boxing and swimming, and we also have representatives in athletics, specifically in marathon and technical disciplines. We are pleased with the already secured quotas in team sports such as water polo and handball. If basketball were to qualify, our delegation would consist of around 90 athletes.

Besides Paris and its suburbs, sporting events will also be hosted by other cities and destinations such as Lille, where handball will take place; Marseille, hosting sailing; and Tahiti in French Polynesia, hosting surfing. How could this impact the athletes’ performances, and do we have candidates for these places?

The handball team which has already secured Olympic quotas will compete in Lille,, as well as basketball players if they qualify through the qualification tournament. To secure an Olympic quota, they need to win first place in the tournament held just before the Olympics, beginning in early July in Greece. In sailing, we already have confirmed representatives: Palma Čargo, Elena Vorobeva, Filip Jurišić, Martin Dolenc, and Mihovil and Šime Fantela. Additionally, in shooting, which will take place at the National Shooting Center in Châteauroux, we will be represented by Giovanni Cernogoraz and other qualified shooters.

Changes in cities or even countries hosting competitions are not uncommon. We can recall the European Water Polo Championship held earlier this year in Dubrovnik and Zagreb, or the upcoming Handball World Championship scheduled for 2025 in Croatia, Denmark, and Norway. Athletes are accustomed to such changes, and everyone receives equal treatment. Hosting competitions in various cities and countries provides an excellent opportunity for promoting the country and sport, while also encouraging the development of sports infrastructure, which is beneficial for the further advancement of sports at both local and national levels.

A large maritime parade, organized to celebrate the arrival of the Olympic flame in France, took place in Marseille 79 days before the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Paris. Among the athletes from other countries invited to carry the torch and attend this event was the celebrated Croatian basketball player Danira Bilić. How significant is it for Croatia as a country that one of its athletes is recognized as someone who will be part of this important ceremony? And does this send a special message?

This year, organizers designed an event where all members of the European Union, including Croatia, had their representatives carrying the flame. Ukraine also joined the EU countries on this occasion. We are extremely proud that Ms. Bilić carried the Olympic flame, representing our country. Notably, Danira Bilić, a celebrated Croatian basketball player, will be inducted into the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Hall of Fame in September this year.

As a top basketball player with three consecutive awards for the best female player in Europe (1988, 1989, and 1990), Danira Nakić has left a significant mark on European basketball. During 1987-1990, she won three silver medals with the former Yugoslavia’s national team at major events: the European Championship in Madrid (1987), the Summer Olympics in Seoul (1988), and the World Championship in Kuala Lumpur (1990).

Ms. Nakić is also a prominent sports official, serving as the President of the National Sports Council, the Croatian Fair Play Committee, and the Expert Council for Women’s Basketball at the Croatian Basketball Federation, as well as the Director of the Croatian Sports Museum.

Events like these undoubtedly promote Croatia in the best light and send a message about the outstanding athletes from our country.

Is our delegation satisfied with accommodations at the Olympic Village? Is everyone together, which other countries are they sharing the space? How important is it for them to be relaxed and satisfied where they are accommodated to achieve good results on the court?

We have our own facility at the Olympic Village, and there is a possibility that our national Olympic Committee will join us with a smaller number of athletes. We are


satisfied with our accommodation and we will do everything that is in our power to provide our athletes with the best possible conditions and treatment. While accommodations are not decisive factors, in addition to physical fitness, the athletes’ success is influenced by external factors such as team atmosphere, nutrition, and climatic conditions. Therefore, we always ensure that the accommodation in the Olympic Village meets the athletes’ needs.

What would you single out as possible or potential issues that could arise during the Summer Olympics? Is it security, or possibly the possibility of some terrorist attacks and the like? What happens in such situations? Are there any behavioral guidelines?

As for security, the protocols that will be applied have been determined, and the delegations will be joined by a ‘security officer’ who will be in constant communication with the athletes, the French security services and our Embassy in Paris.

We hope that the Olympic truce, as one of the achievements of the

Olympic movement, will be respected on this occasion as well.

The Olympic truce refers to the Greek tradition of ekecheiria (Holy Peace), which promotes a peaceful environment and ensures the safe passage and participation of athletes at the Olympics. The tradition of the truce was renewed in 1992 at the initiative of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which appealed for the observance of the Olympic truce during the XXV Olympics in Barcelona, so that athletes from the republics of the former Yugoslavia could participate in them. The UN General Assembly first adopted the resolution on the Olympic Truce at the 48th session in 1993, and since then it has been adopted every two years, a few months before the start of the Olympics.

As the supreme sports body, the IOC firmly stands on the principles of Olympic understanding, solidarity, fair play and mutual trust.

How many fans from Croatia and other countries do you expect to support our athletes? How many tickets have been sold, and where will we have the greatest support?

The interest from fans is always significant, and support from the stands is crucial. Due to the proximity of the Games, we expect an increased number of fans. Tickets are available in limited quantities through the official agency. If our team sports (handball, water polo, and basketball) advance to the quarterfinals, we anticipate even greater interest from fans. In such a case, we will try to increase the Croatian contingent of tickets.

You have a lot of experience and have participated in various sports competitions. Could you give our readers some predictions about the number of medals? How many should we expect?

I am extremely proud of each of our athletes. Achieving the Olympic standard is no small feat, and I congratulate all of them on this accomplishment. Considering its size, Croatia has excellent results and consistently ranks high in the statistics of Olympic medals won, kept by the International Olympic Committee. For example, at the last Olympic Games in Tokyo, we won 8 medals and ranked 26th in terms of success. In London, we also ranked 26th with 6 medals, and in Rio, our most successful Olympic Games with ten medals won, we ranked 17th. Besides the medals won, it’s worth mentioning that our athletes reached 8 finals where they narrowly missed out on medals. We would certainly be delighted with similar successes this year.


Entrepreneurial Center of Zagreb County

Investing in Samobor: The Strategic Advantage of the Bobovica 2 Business Zone

Nestled in the heart of Zagreb County, the picturesque town of Samobor offers more than just cultural heritage and natural beauty.

Located in the heart of Croatia, Zagreb County, with the picturesque town of Samobor as one of its gems, presents a compelling case for investors. The region combines historical charm, economic potential, and strategic advantages, making it an attractive destination for local and foreign investors. Zagreb County, surrounding the nation’s capital, is one of Croatia’s most economically developed areas. It boasts a diversified economy with vital manufacturing, trade, tourism, and information technology sectors. The proximity to Zagreb, the country’s political, economic, and cultural centre, significantly enhances the county’s investment appeal.

Samobor, a historic town known for its cultural heritage and natural beauty, plays a pivotal role in the county’s economic framework. Its strategic location near the Slovenian border and significant transportation routes enhances its accessibility and economic integration within the region. Nestled in the foothills of the Samobor Hills and surrounded by lush forests and rolling landscapes, this charming town is a favoured destination for tourists and locals alike. However, beyond its aesthetic and historical allure, Samobor plays a significant role in the economic tapestry of Zagreb County. This essay explores Samobor’s economic landscape, focusing on its main economic activities, development strategies, and prospects.

Samobor’s long history dates back to the 13th century, and this historical depth has shaped its economic foundations. The town’s economy was traditionally based on agriculture, crafts, and trade. The fertile lands around Samobor facilitat-

ed the cultivation of various crops and vineyards, while the town became known for its craftsmanship in areas such as pottery, glassmaking, and confectionery. Samobor’s strategic location near major trade routes also contributed to its economic growth, making it a bustling market town.

In contemporary times, Samobor’s economy is diverse, encompassing tourism, manufacturing, and services. Initiatives to support local businesses include providing financial incentives, simplifying administrative procedures, and offering training programs. These measures aim to foster entrepreneurship and innovation, helping SMEs to thrive in a competitive market. Collaboration with educational institutions ensures that the local workforce is skilled and capable of meeting the demands of modern industries. Looking ahead, Samobor’s economic prospects are promising. The ongoing development of infrastructure and continuous efforts to boost tourism are expected to drive growth. The town’s strategic location near Zagreb positions it well to benefit from regional economic trends and investments. Moreover, the emphasis on sustainable development and environmental conservation aligns with global economic shifts towards greener economies.

However, challenges remain. Ensuring balanced development that preserves the town’s cultural and natural heritage while fostering economic growth is crucial. Additionally, addressing potential issues such as traffic congestion and the pressure on local services due to increasing tourism is necessary to maintain residents’ quality of life. Samobor is a town where history and

modernity converge, creating a unique economic landscape. Its rich cultural heritage, vibrant tourism sector, and diverse industries make it a key player in the economy of Zagreb County. Through strategic development and a focus on sustainability, Samobor is poised to continue its growth, contributing to the region’s prosperity while preserving the charm and character that make it a beloved destination.

Amidst this economic tapestry lies the Bobovica 2 Business Zone, a significant opportunity for investment and development. The Zone is strategically positioned along the state road from Samobor to the ‘Small’ Bregana border crossing and the access road to the Bregana-Lipovac highway (European route E70; Croatian route A3). Located just 1.9 kilometres from the highway entrance, it offers exceptional connectivity. The Zone extends along the Bregana-Samobor-Sveta Nedelja state road, is 23 kilometres from the Zagreb West railway station, 38 kilometres from Franjo Tuđman Airport, and 169 kilometres from the Port of Rijeka.

The Bobovica 2 Business Zone covers 21 hectares of state-owned land earmarked for future economic activities. The land’s ownership by the Republic of Croatia adds a layer of stability and confidence for investors. Despite the absence of current economic activities, the Zone’s infrastructure potential is promising. The communal fee for manufacturing activities is €6.67 per cubic meter, while the utility fee is €4.08 per square meter. Notably, there are significant utility fee exemptions: 100% in the first year, 50% in the second, and 25% in the third year. Additionally, the water fee is set at €0.04 per square meter.

The building regulations within the Zone are also attractive. The Building Coverage Ratio (BCR) is 0.4, the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) is 2, and the building height limit is 12 meters. These parameters provide ample flexibility for various industrial and commercial developments.

Bobovica 2 Business Zone investors can leverage the strategic location, robust infrastructure, and attractive financial incentives. As Zagreb County continues to grow and develop, zones like Bobovica 2 offer a unique opportunity to capitalize on the region’s economic momentum. The combination of Samobor’s cultural allure and the business-friendly environment of the Zone sets a promising stage for future investments, fostering economic growth and development in this historic yet forward-looking part of Croatia.

You can find additional information about Sveti Ivan Zelina and other greenfield locations in Zagreb County at www.greenring.biz

Philip Morris Zagreb

€90,000 secured for ten innovative entrepreneurs


Croatia has gained 10 new impact entrepreneurs who will receive support for business development in a total value of €90,000, of which entrepreneurs will receive €50,000 through direct financial aid and €40,000 worth of mentoring assistance and support. For eight consecutive years, ACT Group and Philip Morris Zagreb have been awarding funds and know-how to Croatian impact entrepreneurs, with a total investment of €830,000 in entrepreneurs through the program since its inception, where the funds were provided annually by Philip Morris Zagreb.


The recipients of support within the PNS program are innovative companies focused on sustainability in various spheres of activity, such as Kolekcionart, a gallery and platform for young artists, or Physio Kids Center, which aims to improve the motor development of children with difficulties. Among the winners is Audio Store Transonica, which issues audio books in Croatian through the Book&Zvook app, as well as Green Fusion with the Eco Stock Market platform for fundrais-

ing sustainable projects. Joining the ranks of innovative entrepreneurs are Underrated Croatia, a brand offering self-guided audio tours, as well as Open Mosaic promoting democratic management of cities and public institutions. Recipients of support in the fields of robotics and IT include Source Robotics, making robotics more accessible to everyone, and Tiny Meow Studio for the development of non-violent video games. These innovative and sustainable entrepreneurs are also joined by the educational project Secret Forest Society (Croatian: Tajno šumsko društvo), organizing environmental conservation workshops for children aged four to eight, and Studio Modulit, an architectural studio producing modular houses and addressing future housing issues. Of the selected ten winners this year, five candidates who prove to be the

in them. The program strengthens micro-entrepreneurship in Croatia and contributes to the creation of new jobs, product development, and investment in equipment and infrastructure. I congratulate this year’s winners and look forward to the further contribution of this program to creating a sustainable future,” stated Darija Jurica Vuković from Philip Morris Zagreb.


best throughout the mentoring process during the year will be funded with €7,000 each, while five will receive support of €3,000 each.


“Impact entrepreneurs are key to sustainable societal changes, addressing significant social challenges and contributing to economic value. Responding to social challenges requires creativity and innovation, but above all, the courage and determination of entrepreneurs. On this journey, entrepreneurs often encounter unforeseen obstacles, and with this program, we aim to give them a boost in realizing their ideas. Over these eight years, Philip Morris Zagreb has supported a total of 58 Croatian business endeavors, investing over €830,000

Financial value of the positive impact on society created by users in relation to the allocated funds has been measured since the inception of the program. In 2023, the program achieved outstanding efficiency in creating social value. “The social return of the program over the past years has consistently increased, and last year it quadrupled the invested financial resources, confirming its effectiveness and significance. In 2023, we generated €3.97 of social good for every euro invested in the program. The quality of applications improves each year, making the selection process challenging due to the numerous highly valuable and excellent entrepreneurial projects. This year, we selected 10 fantastic entrepreneurs, among whom 8 are female entrepreneurs, which we are particularly proud of. We look forward to collaborating with them and are excited to follow their development and be part of their entrepreneurial journey. The six-month acceleration and intensive support programs are now beginning, providing them with key tools and encouragement for further business growth and development,” stated Ana Brigović from ACT Group.


• Over the span of eight years, the program has seen a remarkable 58 Croatian micro-entrepreneurs, many of whom have achieved international success.

• In 2023, for every euro invested in impact entrepreneurs through the Start Your Own program, €3.97 of social good was generated.

• Over 8 years, the Start Your Own program has invested a total of over €830,000 in the business growth of Croatian impact entrepreneurs.

Anita Letica, president of the management of PMZ and winners of the program

The President of the Republic of Croatia, Zoran Milanović, received the credentials of the ambassadors from Colombia, Angola and the Sovereign Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Rhodes and Malta.

H. E. Laura Gil Savastano, Ambassador of the Republic of Colombia to the Republic of Croatia, based in Vienna, presented her credentials to the President of the Republic, Zoran Milanović. The ambassador of the Republic of Colombia was accompanied by her husband Juan Manuel Osorio Acevedo. President Milanović was accompanied by advisor to the President of the Republic of Croatia for foreign and European policy Neven Pelicarić, director of the Directorate for Multilateral and Global Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs Sebastian Rogač and secretary of the Cabinet for Foreign and European Policy of the Office of the President Ivan Mutavdžić.

H. E. Isabel de Jesus da Costa Godinho, veleposlanica Republike Angole u Republici Hrvatskoj, sa sjedištem u Beču predala je vjerodajnice predsjedniku Milanoviću. U pratnji veleposlanice Republike Angole bili su savjetnik u veleposlanstvu Alfonso Álvaro da Cruz i prva tajnica Eugènia da Felicidade dos Santos Manuel.

Nj. E. Pietro Mortini, veleposlanik Suverenog jeruzalemskog, rodoskog i malteškog viteškog hospitalnog reda svetog Ivana u Republici Hrvatskoj, sa sjedištem u Zagrebu predao je vjerodajnice predsjedniku Republike Hrvatske Zoranu Milanoviću.

PHOTO: Office of the President of the Republic of Croatia / Tomislav Bušljeta
PHOTO Office of the President of the Republic of Croatia Dario Andrišek
PHOTO: Office of the President of the Republic of Croatia / Tomislav Bušljeta
PHOTO: Office of the President of the Republic of Croatia / Tomislav Bušljeta


Le Corbusier
Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona
Winegrowing area of Lavaux
The castles of Bellinzona
Old beech forests
Monte San Giorgio
Convent of St. John in Müstair
Albula/Bernina railway line


Whether you are looking for charming cities, nature parks, breathtaking mountain landscapes or sparkling lakes. Whether Mediterranean or Alpine, Switzerland offers unique destinations that will make your summer vacation unforgettable.



There’s something truly wonderful about going for a refreshing dip on a hot summer’s day. The only way to beat it is by spending your holidays right at the water’s edge. With its many lakes, rivers and swimming baths, Switzerland is the perfect place for refreshing summer holidays.

The numerous lakes don’t just shape the landscape, but also daily life in Switzerland. You can enjoy a relaxing dip in our biggest lakes, as well as in smaller mountain lakes, ponds and reservoirs. Or at least chill out on their shores.

Switzerland’s most famous rivers are undoubtedly the Rhine and the Rhône, but the country also boasts numerous other rivers, which flow through enchanting villages and towns. What’s more, they are so clean that swimming is very popular in many places.


Swiss cities never fail to impress visitors by their scope. Nowhere are attractions, cultural centres , innovative gastronomy

In 2023, the Swiss hotel sector recorded well over 40 million overnight stays (41.8 million), a level never achieved before.

, insider‘s tips and new favorite places in sach close proximity as in Switzerland. Explore Unique shopping experiences in Aarau, Refreshing Schaffhauserland, La Chaux-de-Fonds Food Tour, Art and culture in Zug…

The Swiss Parks are exceptional places, where local people are dedicated to maintaining their glorious landscapes, lively traditions and sustainable regional economies. Genuine natural experi-

La Chaux-de-Fonds MeineStadt

ences, fascinating stories and delicious regional specialities are just waiting to be discovered. The Swiss parks are significant regions that focus on the protection of nature, the careful use of its resources and the promotion of the regional economy. By participating in the Swisstainable programme, the model regions for sustainable development underline their intention to make an important contribution to responsible tourism.


UNESCO World Heritage sites are witnesses to the history of earth and mankind. They tell the story of the country’s formation and are part of the Swiss identity. Each one of these places stands for authenticity, quality and diversity across generations


The series of “Prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps“ comprises a selection of 111 of the almost 1,000 known archaeological pile dwelling stations in the six countries surrounding the Alps. (Switzerland, Germany, Austria, France, Italy and Slovenia). Of these, 56 are discovered in Switzerland.


The watchmaking centres of La Chauxde-Fonds and Le Locle have been awarded World Heritage status by Unesco in Sevilla. The two neighbouring towns in canton Neuchâtel joined nine other Swiss sites that already benefit from the Unesco label, with the agency committee recognizing the merits of the region‘s unique architecture.


130 kilometres in one train. The Albula/ Bernina railway line forms the heart of

the Unesco World Cultural Heritage listing and is regarded as one of the world’s most spectacular routes. The UNESCO route itself covers 122 kilometres from Thusis to Tirano, passing 196 bridges, 55 tunnels and 20 towns along the way.


Knife-sharp and yellow: The seldom line along the rock face around the Piz Sardona marks the Glarus overthrust - a phenomenon of world interest. Here, older rock strata have edged their way above younger rocks.


Seemingly endless moorlands, craggy karst formations and wild mountain streams make for special experiences and views. Switzerland‘s first biosphere reserve offers natural beauty at its finest.

Almost no other region in Switzerland has as many natural treasures as the “Wild West” of Lucerne.


High Alpine areas, wild roaring mountain streams, idyllic villages with their own cultural landscapes, colourful meadows teeming with life and mystical forests are all to be found in the UNESCO Biosfera Engiadina Val Müstair.


Thanks to over 65 000 kilometres of waymarked trails, virtually every corner of Switzerland is waiting to be discovered. The paths are well marked and as varied as the scenery – in fact, they quickly become an end in themselves.

Switzerland boasts the longest, densest, most varied and best waymarked network of hiking trails – a record-breaker in so many ways. Some 65 000 kilometres of waymarked trails at all levels of challenge from straightforward to alpine.

For more informations visit: www.myswitzerland.com


• If all the trails were laid end-to-end, you could hike around the globe one-and-a-half times?

• Hiking is Switzerland’s favourite sporting activity? Almost half the population goes for hikes on a regular basis.

• The country boasts some 50 000 signposts?

• The hiking trails are look after by around 1 500 volunteers?

• The hiking trail network is protected by its own set of laws?

Alp Gruem, Bernina Express
Marbachegg, Seeli
Engadin St. Moritz, Graubünden


Stories will drive the growth of a tourism off er that meets the high standards of guests with greater spending power

Strategic documents of Croatian tourism guide the development of offers between standards and luxury, which is premium. This has been recognized by the Croatian Chamber of Economy, which initiated a project to bring together stakeholders in premium tourism. For Diplomacy&Commerce, Focus on Travel, Andreja Vukojević, Director of the Tourism Sector and Marketing and Communications Sector of the Croatian Chamber of Economy, states that clear criteria have been established, and every company must meet certain conditions to access the platform according to the category they belong to, adds Ms. Vukojević.

As a small country on the Mediterranean, Croatia is already perceived as a tourism powerhouse, supported by the increasing number of tourists and overnight stays. What do you think, how much room is there for continuous growth and what are our ultimate capacities?

at CCE

ism powers. We are still characterized by our proximity to major European markets, excellent transport connectivity, and preserved nature, but with additional advantages; an increasing offer of premium content, variety, and quality of offerings. I see room for growth and capacity expansion precisely in the so-called newly discovered destinations, especially continental centers. All destinations should aim to extend the season, offer additional content, and invest in year-round air routes as a crucial factor for year-round operations, particularly in southern Dalmatia. Zagreb has long been a year-round destination, Rijeka has similar potential in synergy with its hinterland, and efforts should also be made for Split to become a year-round city break destination.

Private accommodation is the backbone of lodging in Croatia. How many hotels of all categories are we lacking, and what needs to be done to facilitate investors to invest more in hotel accommodation?

In many destinations, especially the most attractive ones like Dubrovnik, Hvar, Rovinj, etc., capacities during peak season are always full, and no additional growth should be expected or desired there. It’s essential to consider the sustainability of destinations, the impact of tourism on the lives of local residents, infrastructure, and the environment. This is the greatest value of the new Tourism Law, which prioritizes sustainability and allows local communities to decide the degree and intensity of tourism development. In this way, Croatia has joined many European countries that prioritize the sustainability of tourism industry. We have come a long way from the era of mass tourism and the discovery of our coast during the time of the former state, the re-affirmation after the Homeland War, and the discovery of Croatia as a small challenger in the Mediterranean, to today’s position that places Croatia alongside the largest European tour-

All Croatian companies are making great efforts and investing significant resources to remain as competitive as possible in the rather ruthless global tourism market. Private accommodation in Croatia is rooted in history, and represents an authentic way of hosting guests, and it should be preserved as such. However, hotel owners, whether they are large hotel companies, camps, or boutique hotels, are often trendsetters and, due to their size and the resources at their disposal, they are crucial for the development of tourism. This is especially true when it comes to extending the season, as hoteliers invest heavily in complementary offerings and sustainability. In addition to investing in renewable energy sources and other measures to achieve greater neutrality concerning the impact of operations on local infrastructure and the environment, many hoteliers are increasingly using products from local food and beverage producers in their supply chains.

Therefore, the development of hotel offerings, especially in the high 4- and 5-star categories and in the segments of conference, health, and wellness tourism, is key to further positioning Croatia in the tourism market and ensuring the sustainability of tourism itself. Investors primarily need a predictable regulatory and tax framework, a reduction in parafiscal charges, and clear strategies from local communities, cities, and counties to plan long-term investments and development. Today, Croatia is in the Eurozone and Schengen area, and in two years, it is likely to join the OECD, which will make us even more attractive to foreign investors. Generally, I believe that a period of significant investments and the arrival of international hotel groups is ahead of us.

As a tourist destination, one of the goals is the focus on the premium segment. Where does Croatia stand today in premium tourism compared to the competition we benchmark ourselves against, and what are our comparative advantages and potential drawbacks compared to Mediterranean countries?

If we look at our role models in the premium segment such as Italy or France, there is certainly a lot of work ahead of us, especially in positioning our offerings, improving quality, and diversifying types of accommodations; from glamping, premium vacation villas to 5-star category campsites. There is much we can learn from our Austrian neighbors who achieve excellent revenues and sales volumes in both winter and summer tourism. However, we must not forget that Croatia was perceived as a cheap family destination for sun and sea just two decades ago, and this image has significantly changed in recent years. Primarily, we need to raise awareness about the necessity of a premium offering, proper positioning, and pricing policies because something expensive cannot automatically be considered premium. Therefore, we are talking about value for money, which is a sensitive issue for today’s guests, regardless of their purchasing power. It is necessary to network stakeholders who provide this type of offering, create conditions for its enrichment, and follow trends. In the newly established platform Stories - Experience Premium Croatia, we have a lot of work ahead of us. Challenges abound, but I find professional fulfillment in the multitude of positive reactions and interest in membership; Stories is a project that Croatian tourism has been missing.

HGK and You personally presented the Stories Platform for development of the premium segment in tourism all in one place. What does this precisely mean in practice?

The Stories platform was launched in April this year and already gathers around a hundred members. All premium service providers from the hotel and catering sector, campsites, marinas, holiday villas, travel agencies and charter companies can be included, and if interest is shown, we are also open to other segments of the premium offer.

What is the goal of the platform and ways to apply it in practice? How to recognize the potential and use it, from the very beginning to the end user?

To begin with, we are focused on gathering as many members as possible, followed by activities such as domestic and foreign fairs, B2B workshops, study trips, education, media promotion, and the organization of promotional events in the country and abroad. Through the aforementioned activities, Stories will encourage the growth of tourist offers that meet

the high standards of guests with higher paying power. In addition, we will communicate messages about the possible impact of premium tourism for the economic growth of the country and encourage the development of premium offers.

Clear criteria have also been set, each company must meet certain conditions for access to the platform according to the category it belongs to. The criteria were defined by a working group consisting of representatives of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the Croatian Tourist Board, the Faculty of Management in Tourism and Hospitality from Opatija, UHPA, the Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, and all the presidents of the Association in the Tourism Sector of HGK. In order to maintain high standards, membership will be reviewed periodically.

What is premium tourism?

The development of hotel offerings, especially in the high 4- and 5-star categories and in the segments of conference, health, and wellness tourism, is key to further positioning Croatia

Premium tourism is the most demanding but also the most lucrative sector. It encompasses everything between luxury and standard, emphasizing excellence and quality across destinations, accommodations, gourmet offerings, and more. Estimates suggest that such offerings make up about 15% of the global tourism market, with luxury accounting for approximately 5%, and middle or standard offerings around 35%. Guests with higher purchasing power typically spend more than average tourists. They are willing to pay extra for premium accommodations, exclusive experiences, gourmet cuisine, high-quality services, and luxury products. Additionally, this segment creates high-quality jobs, requiring highly skilled workers to deliver exceptional services and experiences to guests. To attract premium consumers, destinations must invest in high-quality infrastructure such as luxury hotels, exclusive restaurants, shopping centers, well-maintained beaches, and airports with premium terminals. It’s important

to note that premium tourism extends beyond destinations with 5-star hotels. Such experiences can also take place in private jets or chartered yachts with skippers and accompanying staff.

The goal for everyone involved in tourism is to extend the tourist season throughout the entire year. Which tourism segments are you particularly focusing on when it comes to development, and what can we expect in the near future (health tourism, business tourism...)?

The potentials lie in health and business tourism, as both segments extend the season since their offerings are particularly sought after outside the main tourist season. Various programs that combine wellness and health tourism are increasingly in demand due to the growing awareness of health care, maintaining healthy lifestyles, and actively spending leisure time. Travel habits are also changing, with guests traveling more throughout the year, increasing the opportunities for certain regions in Croatia to operate year-round.

However, the synergy of all key stakeholders is crucial—from hoteliers and accommodation providers, local communities, and tourist boards to providers of complementary services—to ensure guests have enough content and reasons to visit. Ultimately, high-quality transport links and the availability of transportation routes, especially air routes, are crucial for year-round operations. Croatia has made significant strides in this regard, benefiting during the pandemic from its proximity to major source markets and excellent road connections, but there is still ample room for improvement. Tourism needs to be viewed comprehensively as a propulsive industry that, depending on how it is managed, can benefit or harm the entire community. Challenges are plentiful, but I am optimistic about the future of Croatian tourism.


The Marriott Group is a global leader in hospitality present in 141 countries with 8,900 hotels across more than 30 different hotel brands. AC Hotel is Marriott’s new brand in the Croatian market, and we hope that our hotel will be the first of many in Croatia, says Damir Lukić, General Manager of AC Hotel by Marriott Split, for Diplomacy&Commerce, Focus on Travel. In today’s hospitality industry, everything is in the details, so AC Hotels as a brand places a strong emphasis on interior design, as we discussed earlier, Mr. Lukić adds.

Since the beginning of May, you have been in the position of GM at AC Hotel by Marriott Split. You have extensive business experience, but what guided you and what was crucial in making the decision when you took on this new role, considering all the challenges already anticipated with AC Hotel by Marriott Split?


The brand is dedicated to the details that are most important to guests during their travels, all with the mission of providing The Perfectly Precise Hotel experience

The fact that AC Hotel by Marriott Split is part of the renowned Marriott hotel chain and also the first AC Hotel by Marriott in Croatia carried weight in making the decision. Additionally, the hotel is an integral part of Dalmatia Tower, one of the most significant architectural projects in recent Croatian history, winner of international awards like the European Property Award for best commercial high-rise architecture and the International Property Award for best development project. It is also officially the tallest building in Croatia at a total height of 135 meters.

Looking at the market position, I believe Split, as one of the few destinations in Croatia, still has significant room for development and capacity growth in the high-quality hotel accommodation segment, and in that sense, further positioning as a high-quality year-round destination.

Many agree that the opening of the hotel was a true spectacle that

At the hotel, each moment is designed to create a flawless guest experience

Croatia has not seen before. Now that the impressions have settled, how would you describe the whole event, and what are you most proud of?

The grand opening was indeed spectacular. At the same time, it was an extremely demanding project in terms of organization and logistics, as the entire program took place on four different floors with strict time frames and involved more than 700 guests. The guest list included the Deputy Prime Minister, the American Ambassador, ministers, state secretaries, and numerous other guests from public and business life. It required exceptional coordination of the entire team to ensure everything was carried out at the highest level. I am most proud of how our team responded to all the challenges. Essentially, I took over the hotel just six days before the grand opening and didn’t even have time to properly get to know my team, but everything was done in an extremely professional

manner, which I never doubted given the amount of experience and mutual synergy we have within the team.

The AC Hotel by Marriott Split is located in the tallest building in Croatia, which is a unique feature in itself as it offers users The Perfectly Precise Hotel experience. What exactly does that mean and what else makes the hotel special and different from the competition?

This is a hotel brand that emphasizes elegant, purposeful design. At the AC by Marriott Hotel, every moment is designed to create an impeccable guest experience. The hotel has customdesigned signature spaces that achieve a perfect balance of form and function. Each hotel room and public space exudes a special sophistication with elegant furniture, selected artworks, and intuitive technology.

The AC Kitchen offers a European-inspired breakfast every morning, and the AC Lounge provides guests with specially crafted signature cocktails and curated snacks.

The brand is dedicated to the details that are most important to guests during their travels, all with the mission of providing The Perfectly Precise Hotel experience.

You are part of the Marriott chain. How does this entail certain standards and rules that make you unique, from appearance to service?

The entire operational business is governed by standards that define everything from the design of the entire hotel, the appearance of uniforms, presentation, communication methods, and guest services, among other aspects. Adherence to these standards is continuously monitored, including visits from mystery guests who reveal themselves only at the end of their stay and then review their observations and the scores achieved with us. Hotels that do not comply with the standards and do not achieve the required number of points may lose the right to use the brand. Marriott is very strict in this regard and does not want to jeopardize the quality guarantee they communicate to guests.

In your opinion, how has the AC Hotel raised standards in the hotel industry in Croatia and how significant is it for the improvement of tourism in Dalmatia or even more broadly?

The presence of international hotel brands is always good and positive news for any destination because it sends a clear signal to the local community, guests, and potential investors. International brands conduct thorough market analysis and assessment of the tourist destination, as well as assessments of the legal and regulatory frameworks and the

general business climate before entering a market or a specific destination. These are globally recognizable hotels, and every guest knows exactly what to expect from such a hotel in advance. Specifically, Marriott has the largest hotel loyalty program in the world with over 200 million members who intentionally stay at Marriott hotels worldwide, thus earning additional benefits. This represents a huge market potential for any destination.

The hotel is an integral part of Dalmatia Tower, officially the tallest building in Croatia at a total height of 135 meters, winner of international awards like the European Property Award and the International Property Award

Details make a difference – how important do you consider them to be, and how much do they contribute to the uniqueness of the offer, from interior design to other details such as pictures, artworks, serving style, and staff? How important do you think it is to pay attention to these aspects?

Today, it is no longer enough to just meet the expectations of guests; it is necessary to exceed them and create special and unforgettable moments that will remain in their lasting memory. In this business, we do not only represent our hotel, but also our city and our country. It is through the interactions that the guests have in the hotel with our staff that they form an impression of our people, our city, and our country in general. This is a great responsibility that we carry and something I often emphasize, especially to new and less experienced colleagues. Therefore, we are immensely proud of the fact that the vast majority of our employees are locals, residents of Split and the Split-Dalmatia County, be-

cause who can better convey local experiences and tell stories about our culture and history than local people.

How would you rate the hotel’s performance and occupancy so far, and what are the forecasts for the current season? Besides the summer season, you are also there for various activities throughout the year, from business tourism to event organization...

The hotel is in its first full year of operation, and every hotel must go through this process of market positioning. Being part of an international brand makes this somewhat easier and faster. We have recorded excellent results in the first half of the year and look with great optimism towards the rest of the season as well as the winter months. We are practically sold out for New Year’s Eve, and an intense conference season awaits us starting in September and continuing throughout the winter.

As a hotel, we are fully aware of our position and role in this city, and we want to actively collaborate with all stakeholders, both from the private and public sectors, to further position Split as a high-quality, but above all, sustainable year-round destination.

We actively support numerous projects such as the Youth Sports Games, SOS Children’s Village Croatia, and similar initiatives. We also have many other initiatives and programs in preparation or nearing realization through which we aim to contribute through socially responsible business practices.


This is a new, unique and fragrant beauty destination bearing the signature of the leading Spanish brand Alqvimia, renowned for its longstanding tradition, holistic approach, and natural ingredients

Located in the heart of Zagreb, at Augusta Cesarca 4, the Alqvimia Store & Spa has opened its doors, gathering partners, clients, ambassadors, and media representatives. This renowned Spanish brand, synonymous with a journey through beauty transformation by transforming the body, mind, and soul, was presented in beautifully designed surroundings. It offers exclusive natural cosmetics made from the purest botanical ingredients, obtained from a harmonious blend of ancient alchemical formulas and state-of-the-art technology.

“We are happy and proud to be the first international distributor of Alqvimia to successfully open an Alqvimia Store & Spa outside of Spain. I am confident that Zagreb will warmly embrace the unique concept of a 100% natural holistic cosmetic brand and the original offering of top-tier facial and body spa treatments,” stated Dr. Ana Ljevar, Director of Humed Pharma, exclusive distributor of the brand in Croatia and the region.

The Alqvimia Store & Spa in the Croatian capital is the first such concept realized outside of Spain, offering all 220 products of the Alqvimia brand, as well as a range of authentic facial and body treatments

The philosophy of the brand is reflected in the beautifully executed space spanning 115 square meters, exuding a touch of luxury accompanied by a sensual aromatic experience.

The exclusivity of the Alqvimia brand is further highlighted by its implementation in the spa centers of the world’s most luxurious hotel chains such as Mandarin Oriental, Shangri La, and Six Senses. In Croatia, Alqvimia’s uncompromising quality has been recognized at Hotel Ambasador in Split and Maslina Resort in Hvar.


The philosophy of the brand is reflected in the beautifully executed space spanning 115 square meters, exuding a touch of luxury accompanied by a sensual aromatic experience. It is decorated in neutral, natural tones and materials that further emphasize the authentic Alqvimia narrative. The Alqvimia Store & Spa is a multifunctional space consisting of three zones: the front area where clients can familiarize themselves with the products, brand, and its benefits through personalized guidance from knowledgeable staff. In the second, more intimate zone, they can indulge and relax in specially crafted Alqvimia treatments that include authentic Alqvimia rituals.

A significant specialty includes tests and energy treatments that focus particularly on chakra stimulation and rebalancing. Moreover, Alqvimia Store & Spa boasts a specially designed space for boutique events, workshops, team building activities, and education in aromatherapy, meditation, and wellbeing.

ALQVIMIA Store & Spa



onte Vista Travel is an agency that stands out in the competition thanks to its specialization in MICE tourism, Goran Korać, General Manager of Monte Vista Travel from Montenegro says fir Diplomacy&Commerce, Focus on Travel. Although we are a young agency, our rich experience enables us to provide top-notch services, Korać adds.

MGeneral Manager

Monte Vista Travel Podgorica, Montenegro

Our goal is to provide the entire experience, from arrival to departure, including comprehensive event planning, logistics and execution services.

sustainability principles and environmental protection must be an absolute priority in all future decision-making initiatives.

Monte Vista Travel has ambitious plans to expand its business into the region. How do you see tourism in the surrounding countries?

Croatia has become a small tourism powerhouse in recent years, and each surrounding country has its own advantages and assets.

Is there a possibility of joint marketing efforts in third markets?

Croatia has always been a benchmark for us in Montenegro on how to develop tourism and promotion. I would say that Croatia’s achievements are highly motivating for us. Of course, Croatia has significantly greater resources compared to Montenegro, but I believe that the proximity of certain regions of our countries and the potential to create special joint offerings for specific markets should be intensified in the coming period. I am confident, and this is also the opinion of most colleagues in the industry, that we can achieve significant results by approaching certain markets in this way, through coordinated and carefully crafted promotion and appropriate products.

What do people, tourists, seek most often? How has the clientele changed, and have we become more demanding or not?

Our goal is to build a relationship of trust and be the first choice that clients perceive as a reliable partner for experiencing everything that we offer.

We strive to continuously improve and acquire knowledge from the dynamic industry in which we operate. From this, you can conclude that we are particularly focused on strengthening and continuously professionalizing our team. I am pleased that these standards are recognized, and we are expanding our client base, as well as our offer in the market.

Do you also work on bringing tourists to your destination, in addition to organizing tours?

Yes, in addition to our traditional travel and event organization services, we actively work on bringing tourists to our destination. Our goal is to provide a complete experience from arrival to departure, including comprehensive planning, logistics, and event execution services. This ensures that our clients receive seamless service, whether we are organizing travel for business groups, conferences, or incentive programs.

How important for tourism development and for the tourist season to last throughout the year is to develop other branches of tourism besides beaches and the sea - business tourism, health tourism, etc.?

You are a seasoned professional who has been working in tourism for many years. How would you assess the state of tourism in Montenegro today? What are its advantages, and where is there room for improvement?

Montenegro is now recognized as an attractive destination, which it certainly deserves because of its unique natural beauty. I would emphasize that Montenegro’s advantage lies in its proximity to various landscapes, offering tourists the opportunity to experience the famous encounter with diversity for which we are known. However, although the overall situation is positive, there is ample room for advancement and further valorization of its potential. The focus should undoubtedly be on overcoming seasonality issues, improving air connectivity, adequate promotion, expanding capacities, and more. Of course, adherence to

Diversifying the tourism offer is crucial for extending the tourist season and ensuring stable revenue throughout the year

Tourists most often seek authentic experiences, high levels of service, comfortable accommodation, natural beauty, and cultural attractions. Outdoor activities, local gastronomy, and personalized tours are particularly popular. They want to share their experiences, whether positive or negative, on social media, thus influencing the reputation and status of a destination or a facility. All of this places additional pressure on us in the tourism industry - more than ever before, we need additional skills, creativity, and a dedicated approach to create recognized offerings.

Monte Vista Travel is an agency that stands out in many ways from the competition. How would you describe what you do and what truly sets you apart?

First and foremost, we are focused on carefully listening to the needs of our clients and aiming to establish long-term relationships.

What are your experiences on this matter and capacities in the market you operate in?

I’ll emphasize again that diversifying the tourism offer, including business and health tourism alongside traditional beach and sea tourism, is crucial for extending the tourist season and ensuring stable revenue throughout the year. Business tourism, such as MICE events, plays a pivotal role because it is not bound by seasonal rules and allows destinations to attract visitors outside of peak tourist seasons. Our experiences show that a diverse tourism offering enhances competitiveness in the market and creates opportunities for sustainable development. These are all important issues that require addressing through a systematic approach, involving close collaboration between decision-makers and tourism professionals. Only through such collaboration can we create solutions to enhance sustainable tourism development and properly capitalize on our potential.


Discover The Quintessence Of #AdriaticJoieDeVivre

Nestled on the coast of the Adriatic, surrounded by the pristine nature of Risnjak and Učka National Parks and cobalt-blue waters of the stunning Kvarner Bay, Hilton Rijeka Costabella Beach Resort & Spa offers a unique Adriatic lifestyle experience in a 5-star accommodation comprised of beautiful contemporary rooms and uniquelydesigned villas.

Enjoy the comfort of your sea-facing room, suite or villa apartment, unwind at the beach or by the infinity pool, relax your body and mind in the eforea Spa & Health Club and tempt your palate with our MICHELIN starred Adriatic cuisine.

Hyatt Regency Kotor Bay Resort

Hyatt Regency Kotor Bay Resort Set to Unveil New Meeting and Event Venues in Autumn 2024

With the three existing event and meeting spaces spanning over 300 square meters, the new ballroom and event space will boost the capacity with an additional 610 square meters, available as a whole or divided into two event halls measuring 280 square meters and 230 square meters, allowing for banquet events of up to 480 people, and double that in a cocktail reception setting.

The spectacular modern and multifunctional addition will be able to accommodate a versatile array of events, from weddings and conferences, team buildings and seminars, ceremonies and parties, product launches and fashion shows, to fundraisers and diplomatic and corporate receptions. The new conference hall features a high ceiling, a modern nature-inspired design with large windows allowing ample natural light and unsurpassed views of the Bay’s striking mountains and the pool plateau and terrace. Incorporated into the new development and its facilities, the new Ballroom Lobby Lounge can serve as a pre-event area perfect for registrations and bilateral impromptus, or as a gift room or photo-op area.

The resort itself, located on a three-hectare beachfront property, provides access to the region’s top beaches and trendy scenes, natural and manmade Montenegro highlights, and the cities of Kotor and Tivat. Getting to the complex is possible by boat and yacht with the hotel’s own docking marina, easily accessible by road from other countries in the region, and by air with a short and scenic drive along the Bay upon touchdown, with the complex located only 13 km from the Tivat International Airport.

The resort, featuring 252 suites and bedrooms, ensures flexibility for operators and event organizers to easily manage their events


and seamlessly organize programs using the existing hotel facilities. The well-being and conference resort features six restaurants and bars with indoor and outdoor spaces, pool and beach plateaus, spa and wellness facilities, and health

and well-being facilities with outdoor and indoor pools to accommodate the most complex schedules and visions of a perfect event regardless of the season. The overall objective of the resort is to cater to and accommodate both intimate celebrations and large gatherings across an array of indoor and outdoor venues and spaces, supported by professional teams ready to respond to and surpass any gourmet cuisine ideas, service requirements, and design visualization expectations.

With the elevation of Montenegro as a vacation and business destination, ease of access by road and by water, and the increase in incoming flights from across Europe and beyond, the strategic development was envisioned as a key element in positioning the resort and its accompanying complex as market leaders in the region, offering an array of superior services and modern facilities while keeping the charm of the natural surroundings intact.

Hyatt Regency Kotor Bay Resort is undergoing a multimillion-euro property addition, a development aimed at enhancing the MICE offerings and attracting a larger variety of events and conferences not only to Kotor Bay but to Montenegro and the region as a whole. The new addition will expand the regional portfolio as one of the largest conference spaces in the Bay, changing the hospitality landscape and complementing the strategy of expanding the resort services and capturing a wider range of guests and companies.

Travels abroad go hand in hand with Visa

We tend to go on holiday to get away from everyday life and responsibilities and to indulge in our favorite holiday activities.

As Croats, we are particularly keen to sightsee, relax and rest, see family and friends abroad. This year as many as 33% of us will travel overseas for vacation, mostly choosing sunny and beautiful Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany, as shown by Visa Travel & Payment Intentions Study 2024 . Interestingly, more than half of travelers from Croatia declare to go even two or three times abroad this season.


To rest comfortably means also not worrying about anything, especially payments, and being sure that we are always able to pay and can do it safely – regardless of whether we are at the local market in Turkey or out to dinner in a seaside restaurant in Thailand. This peace of mind during a dream vacation can be supported by fast, convenient, and secure Visa payments – available in millions of locations around the world, thanks to which you don‘t have to worry about running out of cash intended for your holiday activities or exchange rates. The popularity of digital payment use during abroad trips is increasing among tourists from Central and Eastern Europe. Also, as many as 78% of us – Croats –want to pay this way when traveling to a country with a different currency, which means a 9% rise year-on-year . As Visa credentials are accepted at more than 100 million locations in over 200 countries and territories around the world, paying even for small pleasures abroad is also not a problem anymore. All you have to do is take your physical payment card or a smartphone/smartwatch with a card added to your mobile wallet with you for foreign vacations.


Croats, who intend to pay by card abroad appreciate this method of payment for convenience (31%), speed (65%), and no risk of losing cash (68%). Relatively good FX rates (24%) and better overview of spendings (49%) are also helpful to control holiday spending. CEE travelers, who become more and more digitally savvy, also particularly value comfort (61%) when using payment card abroad and one-fourth opt for mobile payments with their smartphones or smartwatches when being on a trip in foreign country. It’s an easy way to pay for holiday pleasures and they spend mostly on food and drinks (73%) and entertainment (46%).


When paying digitally with Visa, you have constant access to your money in your bank account and your payments are secured, To pay digitally,


just tap your Visa card or smartphone with an added payment card to the terminal in the store, restaurant, public transport, etc.

Digital payments with Visa cards abroad are as fast, convenient and secure as everyday domestic purchases. Thanks to our network, Visa credentials can be used to pay in more than 180 currencies in millions of places. Travelers also don‘t have to worry about carrying cash in local currency with them. If necessary, you can withdraw funds at one of over 2 million ATMs around the world. To ensure safe payment, look for an ATM with the Visa logo. Importantly, withdrawing cash from ATMs abroad can actually be more cost-effective – says Renata Vujasinović, Country Manager Croatia, Visa.


As mobile wallets are becoming popular, it is necessary to provide technologies that underpin them . One of these is tokenization, which provides an additional layer of security and is the next stage of change in digital payments. They will soon help to blur the boundary between on-

line and in-store payments. Thanks to tokenization and other technologies, such as biometrics, paying can be automated to the point of becoming almost unnoticeable.

You must know that there is another advantage of paying online with Visa credentials, which you can benefit from while you are still planning your holiday. When consumers buy packaged holidays trips, flights, hotels, ticket entrances or even new bikinis or sandals using Visa card, they are protected from fraud, card loss or theft.

In addition to a hat or sun cream, the following steps can protect you from unpleasantness while travelling:

• Let your bank issuer know you‘re travelling Tell your card issuer about your trip before leaving, so they don‘t flag unfamiliar transactions. Additionally, make sure you know your card’s daily ATM withdrawal limit, expiration date, account balance and available funds.

• Memorising your PIN before departing Whether you’re using a magnetic strip or chip card, know your card PIN before travelling overseas. If you’ve forgotten your PIN, reapply for a new one.

• Activating mobile alerts and notifications

Sign up for free text alerts when a transaction exceeds a pre-set amount or when unusual card activities are detected. Contact your card issuer for details.

• Paying in local currency

Foreign merchants may offer to convert your bill. Although it is convenient to see the bill in your home country’s currency, the conversion usually includes a markup. To avoid the markup, decline the conversion and choose to pay in local currency. If you choose to pay in local currency, but the transaction was charged by the merchant in a different currency, contact your bank to contest the charge.

And now – just enjoy your trip!

Air Montenegro - An Essential Part of Your Journey

This summer, Air Montenegro has expanded its offerings, taking you to 16 destinations during the summer season.

In addition to the well-known Frankfurt, Zurich, Istanbul, and Paris, we have three new destinations – Baku, Izmir, and Ostrava. The summer season kicked off with the opening of the Tivat-Izmir route on April 5th. The company began operations from Tivat to Baku on June 7th, and the Podgorica-Ostrava route was launched on June 18th.

From Tivat Airport, Air Montenegro flies to Baku, Belgrade, Brno, Istanbul, Izmir, Ljubljana, and Prague this summer. At the same time, regular flights from Podgorica are available to the following destinations: Belgrade, Bratislava, Zurich, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Ljubljana, Lyon, Nantes, Ostrava, Paris, and Rome.

All you need to do is choose your desired destination, and we will do everything to ensure that from the moment you step onto our plane until you reach your desired destination, every moment is filled with enjoyment and comfort.

Our friendly staff will welcome you with a warm smile and kindness from the very first encounter, providing exceptional service and making your travel experience unforgettable. Once you are comfortably seated at an altitude of 10,000 meters, besides the incredible view, your experience will be enhanced by the content of the fifth edition of our exclusive Air Time magazine. In its pages, you can find inspirational stories, explore our offerings, and discover reasons to visit our latest destinations and Montenegro.


In addition to top-notch in-flight service, Air Montenegro takes care of its passengers before and after the flight. Whether it’s about relaxing before boarding or taking a short break during a layover, enjoy the added comfort and convenience of our business lounges. These lounges provide our business travelers with access to comfortable seating, complimentary food and beverages, as well as high-speed internet. Passengers have the opportunity to relax or focus on business tasks before the flight, as the lounge offers a quiet and private environment.

At Istanbul Airport, our passengers can enjoy the amenities of the business lounge in the A sector of the international departures floor, while our lounge at Ljubljana Airport is located in the main terminal.

At Nikola Tesla Airport in Belgrade, our passengers have access to a self-service buffet, as well as a wealth of informative and educational content. The lounge is situated between terminals A4 and A5.


The newest additions to our lounge offerings are at Zurich Airport, located at two sites: the Airside Center and the Midfield Dock Terminal E. Passengers at Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport in Rome can find the lounge in the Extra Schengen zone between gates E31 and E61. At Podgorica and Tivat airports, the lounges are

located at the departure gates, allowing business class passengers to enjoy the amenities up to two hours before boarding with a provided voucher.


For those who seek an extra dose of luxury and comfort, Air Montenegro offers an exceptional business-class experience. With highly personalized service, passengers have the opportunity to enjoy a menu featuring top-quality dishes and beverages, carefully paired to provide maximum gastronomic pleasure.

Our passengers can indulge in traditional Montenegrin specialties such as Njeguški prosciutto, authentic cheeses, olives, and figs. In addition to these snacks, we proudly highlight our selection of wines, which perfectly represent Montenegro’s rich tradition, giving all passengers the chance to delve deeper into the local culture and heritage.

For those who prefer vegan and vegetarian meals, Air Montenegro’s business class offers specially designed menus. Enjoy fresh ingredients prepared in a way that highlights their natural flavors and nutritional values.

When you choose Air Montenegro, you choose more than just a transportation service. You choose unforgettable moments and comfort with every mile traveled.


Unique experiences, special benefits and additional discounts are now available in one place

In today’s world where time and convenience play a crucial role, finding a comprehensive solution for your needs is becoming increasingly important. This is where the priceless.com platform steps in – a unique destination that allows Mastercard cardholders to maximize the benefits offered by their card.

Here, everyone can find something for themselves – from exclusive experiences to concrete offers and benefits. From its inception, the experiences offered by this platform have attracted the attention of true adventure enthusiasts. Priceless.com abounds with diverse activities, such as guided tours through the magical vineyards of Istria or unforgettable cruises on the Adriatic Sea. For those craving excitement, there are off-road adventures on electric scooters or guided truffle hunts in the beautiful forests in


Istria. On the other hand, lovers of art, culture, and entertainment can enjoy opera gala concerts at the Dubrovnik Summer Festival or the spectacular ULTRA Europe festival.

However, this is merely a part of what priceless. com offers. From now on, this platform is expanding to include new offers and benefits through the “Mastercard. Vrijedi više.” initiative. There are

benefits for using a Mastercard at a range of estores available every third weekend of the month, as well as numerous offers related to JRE (Jeunes Restaurateurs) and the Fortress of Culture Šibenik available throughout the year. Furthermore, the collaboration with small businesses through the Uplift project allows users to enjoy products and services from Croatian entrepreneurs with exceptional benefits, while Mastercard’s global offers provide opportunities for savings and convenience during travel or online shopping.

Every visit to priceless.com platform is an opportunity for Mastercard cardholders to enhance their everyday lives and explore new possibilities. Therefore, for those seeking comprehensive solutions for their needs – from exclusive experiences to specific offers and benefits – priceless. com is the destination not to be missed.

As a market leader in Croatia in the field of innovative waste management solutions, particularly concerning food waste, we are confident that this will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants, says Sven Darrer, procurator of DARRER d.o.o., the distributor of ExBio and ORCA devices, for Diplomacy&Commerce. He emphasizes that this will improve overall environmental quality in hospitality as well as tourism sectors.

Could you tell us more about the solutions currently being implemented in Croatia to reduce food waste?

We distribute ORCA aerobic digesters from Canadian company Minus Global International, as well as ExBio digester devices from American/Korean company ExBio NA. These devices help prevent the formation and accumulation of food waste, reducing the amount of this waste sent to landfills and contributing to efficient waste management.

We are discussing sustainable waste management in the hospitality/tourism sector. Could you provide more information on the technologies used to prevent the generation of food waste?

Devices like ExBio and ORCA aerobic digesters are recognized as examples of best practices, allowing for the rapid processing of food waste in institutional and commercial settings by mimicking the natural digestive process. Our digester units use natural microorganisms in the presence of oxygen on the spot. This technology efficiently breaks down food waste into liquid within 24 hours or less, without the need for grinding or shredding.

The effluent exiting the digester units goes directly into the sewer system through your existing infrastructure and can further be recycled at wastewater treatment facilities.

Innovative solutions for bio waste management

We expect that ExBio and ORCA devices will significantly reduce the amount of bio waste


We save your time and money while reducing environmental impact compared to other waste disposal methods. We comply with food waste disposal regulations, but we are also thinking Green.

What are the advantages of using these devices for the hospitality/

tourism sector, and what are the obstacles?

The advantages are manifold. Firstly, they generate significant savings for users by reducing the amount of waste that needs to be transported to landfills. Secondly, they reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with waste transportation. Additionally, these

devices are adaptable and available in several different models, meaning they can process varying amounts of waste from kitchens of different sizes. On the other hand, one of the main obstacles is resistance and misunderstanding among entrepreneurs in the hospitality/tourism sector regarding the importance of sustainable waste management. There is still a prevailing belief that maximizing profit is paramount, while environmental protection often takes a back seat.

What positive examples do you notice when it comes to environmental protection in the context of your business?

Fortunately, perceptions are gradually changing. There are increasing examples of socially responsible business practices and investments in environmental protection within the tourism sector. These efforts are aligned with the goals of European Union policies and national waste management policies, which emphasize waste reduction at the source.

How adaptable are the devices you offer and what models are available?

We are a leader in the field of digester devices worldwide. We are present in over 20 countries, supplying hotels, restaurants, campsites, cafeterias, public kitchens, and others. Our smallest device processes 10 kg/day. Whether you need 25, 50, 100, 200, 300, 500, 1000, or, uniquely worldwide, 3000, 5000, 10000 kg/day processing capacity, we have them all. We systematically develop replacements for microorganisms and Biochips, with enzyme replacements every 6-12 months and Biochip replacements every 1.5-2.5 years. Real-time monitoring of food input and processing provides transparency and control over the process. The plug-and-play system with low energy consumption adjusts to your needs (220 V 50/60Hz). ExBio devices comply with provisions of Articles 12 and 13 of the Regulation on limit values for wastewater emissions NN 26/2020 and meet these requirements.

Eurovilla - Luxury offer for embassies and diplomatic missions

Eurovilla has a rich and extensive portfolio with a highly successful history in brokering and finding suitable properties of both business and residential nature, including all details and dedication to the needs of embassies and diplomatic missions in Croatia.


As the business, economic, diplomatic, and cultural center of Croatia, Zagreb is home to nearly a million residents. Known as the “city of a thousand hearts,” Zagreb has always attracted tourists and visitors, a trend that has been particularly emphasized since Croatia’s accession to the European Union. Its proximity and good connectivity with other European cities further enhance Zagreb’s status as an ideal congress and incentive destination.

The capital of Croatia is also a hub of science and culture. Many eminent Zagreb scientists and artists have enriched Croatian and global cultural heritage. The city boasts around fifty museums and galleries, as well as private art collections, and has about twenty theaters and concert halls. From spring to autumn, when the weather is pleasant, numerous exhibitions and events spill out onto the streets, squares, and parks of Zagreb. During this time, Zagreb becomes a vibrant stage that captivates both foreign and domestic visitors with its diversity and charm.

As the diplomatic center of Croatia, currently hosting 55 foreign embassies and 234 diplomatic missions, Zagreb’s political profile and its significance on the geopolitical scene of Southeastern Europe are more than evident following Croatia’s accession to the EU.


Finding suitable properties of both business and residential nature for embassies and diplomatic missions is an exceptionally complex, demanding, and responsible task.

The supply of luxury properties in Zagreb is extensive, ranging from luxurious apartments in the city center, the Lenuci Horseshoe around Zrinjevac, Marulić Square, and Tomislav Square, to Ban Jelačić Square, and in the northern parts of the city on Šalata, Babonićeva, Tuškanac, Prekrižje, as well as luxurious villas in the northern residential area, especially around Prekrižje, Tuškanac, and Pantovčak - says Sergio Serdarušić, adding that in

the city center, apart from Cvjetni and Ban Centar, most buildings are older constructions with high ceilings and large salons.

Properties in Zagreb vary significantly based on micro-location, level of maintenance, and luxurious furnishing and equipment. There is a considerable demand for such properties, primarily driven by foreigners, as nearly all foreign diplomatic missions are located in Zagreb, accommodating many staff members including ambassadors, cultural attachés, secretaries, etc. Typically, their mandates last three to four years, resulting in frequent turnover and occupancy of luxury properties. Exceptions include embassies and ambassador residences that are often leased for longer periods spanning multiple mandates – Serđarušić explained.

Dina Serđarušić adds that inquiries from diplomatic officials often focus on houses, as foreigners with families prefer the northern part of the city. The Šestine area has become particularly attractive due to a popular private school located there, while Babonićeva Street remains highly sought-after due to the presence of an American school. These areas offer luxurious apartments that rival houses in amenities, featuring large gardens, pools, spacious layouts (around 200 square meters), garages, top-notch maintenance, and buildings with only a few units in them.

Eurovilla has established numerous successful collaborations with embassies and diplomats from almost all parts of the world and stands out as the logical and first choice when dealing with real estate that could attract diplomatic interest.




Reception on the occasion of the Day of the Republic of Italy


Ambassador of Italy H.E. Paolo Trichilo emphasized the excellent relations between Croatia and Italy in all areas, from economy to culture. He praised the cooperation between the two countries and especially welcomed the representatives of the Italian National Community He emphasized the importance of

Traditionally, a reception was held in the residence of the British ambassador in Zagreb on the occasion of the birthday of King Charles III. The host, British ambassador H.E. Simon Thomas hosted a large number of officials, representatives of the diplomatic corps

t the regular gath`ering of the Swedish Business Club, guests from the European Investment Bank and the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank talked

cooperation between the two countries within the EU and stated that the new Croatian government will further strengthen the decisions made. Vice-President of Parliament Željko Reiner also emphasized the excellent relations between Croatia and Italy, especially in the area of protection of the Adriatic Sea and the environment.

and guests from cultural and public life.“With our friends and partners, we wished His Majesty King Charles III a long life and good health, but we also celebrated the strong bond between our two countries” it was officially announced on the website of the British Embassy.

with Swedish companies in Croatia about current events with a focus on competitiveness and green transition.

Kovačević for British Embassy Zagreb
Vice-President of Parliament Željko Reiner and Furio Radin representative in the Croatian Parliament
Tomislav Tomašević, Mayor of Zagreb, H. E. Anna Boda, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Sweden to Croatia British ambassador H.E. Simon Thomas with his wife
Ambassador of Italy H.E. Paolo Trichilo
Photo: Željko Jerneić for La Voce del popolo




The Croatian Annual PE&VC Investment Awards Conference.

Organised by the Croatian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (CVCA) at the Westin, marked the fourth edition of celebrating the annual awards for the best investments in fast-growing companies and startups, recognising the top private equity and venture capital (PE&VC) investments in Croatia. Private equity and venture capital funds are no longer exotic or niche. They support dynamic companies and have become the cornerstone of the Croatian economy and society. These funds support our daily lives more than we realise, being present in leading firms across sectors, transforming the Croatian economy towards ‚high skill, high tech, and high wage.‘ This aligns with our BestInvest conference slogan – support the best and transform the rest!

Hrvoje Cuvalo (president Of The Management Board, HBOR) And Mirna Marovic
Mirna Marovic (president, CVCA)

Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom

If the room is stuffy, open the window—even if a fly comes in, it’s still better than suffocating

When China was transitioning from the Mao era to the present era, the legendary statements were those of Deng Xiaoping, the leader of the Communist Party of China, who responded to ‘serious’ questions from Western journalists with Chinese old sayings. It’s time to return to the legacy of comrade Deng.


When journalists once asked Comrade Deng how private, state, societal, shareholder, and other entities fit into “socialism with Chinese characteristics,” Deng calmly replied, “Let a thousand flowers bloom.” On another occasion, when asked if the transition would bring about some negative aspects, he responded, “If the room is stuffy, open the window—even if a fly comes in, it’s still better than suffocating.”

This is precisely why the whole world should focus on Chinese wisdom. Whether expressed by Confucius or the leader of the Communist Party of China, it’s what has made China one of the leading countries in the world over the past 40+ years (and in many areas, the leading one). It’s not just about flexibility and a pursuit of high-tech innovations, but also about the readiness to “let a thousand flowers bloom,” as long as weeds don’t sprout.

And here we come to the fundamental premise that the Western world has lost, once prided upon: the flourishing of a thousand flowers is, in fact, the acceptance of diversity. In today’s world, which is “monolithic” and poses as a “moral giant,” this is considered some sort of “heresy”—if you don’t think like us (whatever we say, no matter how much it changes abruptly in just 5 or 10 years), you’ll be “canceled” and “deplatformed,” and we’ll prevent you from “spreading hate,” while we claim to be “offended.” Cohorts of people have emerged who are just seeking reasons to be offended by someone else’s different opinion or mere existence.



In that sense, it wouldn’t be bad to understand that the whole world is not monolithic, and people don’t hold monolithic views, not even in Orwell’s “1984.” There will always be someone, or some, who doesn’t think like you. And so, the little anxieties and calls for “universal electrification” of cars by 2030 are somewhat amusing, as we know, firstly, it’s impossible: there are people who don’t

have enough electricity even for “ordinary” needs, let alone for EVs (in the so-called Global South); there are people who live in areas where logistically having EVs is not feasible, such as the vast expanses of Australia, Canada, etc. There’s already an established alcohol engine system in Brazil, for example, that no one mentions. There are countries with so much oil and gas that it simply doesn’t pay off for them. New hydrogen engines are being

developed. And yet, there are hybrids too. Thus, they become both the best-selling, and EVs will indeed be the future of the world, but in combination with many other “flowers in the garden,” we should focus on other ways of reducing emissions and combating global warming—such as building infrastructure for high-speed trains, trams in cities, and the like. For instance, precisely in the US, this part is progressing the slowest.


The IMF has provided some calculations according to which the EU will have very weak growth, only 0.8% (the Eurozone, to be more precise), while the US will stand at a robust 2.7%, Russia at 3.2%, and the famously “slowing China” (this has been talked about for 10 years already) at 4.6%, which is a dream for most Western countries. The biggest winner in the whole story is - India with 6.8%. If China has been the fastest-growing power in the world over the past 20 years, in the next 20 it will be India. If China branded itself as the “World’s Factory,” India brands itself as the “Friend of the World”simply put, it has good relations with the West, which, as part of its famous “containment of China,” is shifting production to India, has good relations with Russia and China, with which it is also in BRICS, and promotes the old idea of “Indian peacefulness” as the mantra of a benevolent force. And the return of these two ancient civilizations to the forefront of global development represents an act of “poetic justice.”

Two factors are at play: as once in China, now in India, there is plenty of room for progress: under government programs, clean drinking water is being introduced throughout the country, and soon new tasks for implementation will follow, which will put India in a better position every year. This doesn’t mean that the US will worry about anything - they won’t, and growth there will be quite good, and the US will always be an economic superpower, probably the largest, and competitively capable - their biggest problem lies in ideological divisions that India and especially China don’t have, hence the film “Civil War,” which was impossible to even think of just 10 years ago. Also, India is accustomed to the “growth of a thousand flowers” - despite Partition, it has been the “prey” of numerous powers for centuries, and it has endured, absorbed influences, and transformed into a multinational, multi-confessional, and above all, young (in terms of its population’s age) state.


Other developed countries around the world must seriously consider what their societies will soon look like - with declining birth rates and high living standards, they will have to make compromises. They will either motivate their citizens to have more children, or they will have to accept and assimilate foreigners into their culture and society. In Europe, this is proving difficult - the rise of the right wing even in the Netherlands, traditionally a tolerant country where Sephardic Jews from Portugal hid and where the first immigrants from overseas countries arrived as early as the beginning of the New World, shows that this is a “delicate matter.” It’s not as simple as accepting Ukrainians into Poland or Russians into Serbia.

In the US, although it is, like all former colonies, ultimately an immigrant country, it also has problems. Russia is also a former empire, accustomed to diverse peoples, and during the time of the USSR, this became the norm - the country itself has all kinds of cultures and multiple races, and with every emigration, there is also immigration - news in Uzbekistan reported


that in 2023 alone, there were over 500,000 emigrants from Uzbekistan to Russia. Gulf countries have long embraced the “80% foreigners and we don’t mind, because we want progress” method. They understood the “thousand flowers.”

But where is the problem? Countries in the Far East will have to accept this same reality, although they have lived in their fairly self-sufficient cultures for centuries. China is ultimately a “melting pot,” but all the people here are indigenous. And soon millions of foreigners will be needed in China, as well as in other “Asian tigers” - transitioning from centuries of isolationism to becoming the “Dubai of the East” will not be easy at all. India will not have these problems, nor will Africa, which will take over as the most dynamic region in the world after India. China and its neighbors will eventually have to apply their motto of “a thousand flowers” to a region they may not have expected.


There’s an episode of The Simpsons where Marge Simpson gets lost in the woods and, in a bout of her obsessive-compulsive disorder of “tidying up” things around her, starts “arranging squirrels” by lining them up in a row on a branch to be “in line.” It was funny for kids, but for those who want to draw a point, even as an

adult - squirrels don’t line up. They are beings that have their own will, not yours. The world will be diverse, with many forms of social organization, habits, production systems, and cultures. BRICS+, with its motto of “don’t touch me, I won’t touch you, we’re members together and we push forward” (unspoken) is one of the good examples where the incompatible merges into the future world where a thousand flowers bloom. It’s impossible in a world where cultures have arisen on entirely different foundations (conquistadors discovered that American civilizations knew all about astronomy but hadn’t thought to invent the wheel) to create a uniform system and “cancel” others or force them to behave like you. When Westerners say there’s “not enough democracy” in China, the Chinese respond: there isn’t, because it’s a Greek concept, as its name implies. But on the other hand, there’s not enough wenmin in the West - social harmony where all members of society strive to progress individually and collectively without excessive emphasis and without hurting others. Therefore, we don’t expect the West to “step down from the throne” and be “defeated” - K-Pop and Chinese bands even look similar to those in the West. Not all of Asia will start dressing in traditional attire again or reject Western innovations - skyscrapers, and shopping centers. In the ideal case, it will be a society where locals dress and behave according to their beliefs, and you with yours... And the West won’t “win” either - because there’s no one to win against. The ideal future won’t be one where Marge “arranges squirrels” in the forest, but more like a cantina on Mos Eisley from Star Wars - many forms of life and aesthetics, cultures and economies, worldviews without “policing.” And for this - everyone will have to make quite an effort.


The new, 164th season of the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb will offer the audience eleven premiere performances, combining contemporary and classical as well as Croatian and international titles, announced the directors of Drama, Opera, and Ballet on Tuesday at a press conference held at the Croatian National Theatre. In addition to the successful reprises of drama, opera, and ballet performances, the upcoming season brings 11 premiere titles designed in accordance with the set mission of the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb, balancing between classical and contemporary as well as Croatian and international titles in all three artistic units, said General Manager Iva Hraste Sočo.


New members of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (HAZU) – 17 regular, six corresponding, and 15 associate members - were inaugurated at the HAZU Library in Zagreb on Thursday. President of HAZU, Academician Velimir Neidhardt, addressed the present company, where he recalled the activities of HAZU since its founding in 1861 and its mission. He emphasized that it is the tradition of the Academy not to engage closely with politics, as he believes that contentious confrontations in Croatian society are harmful. In recent years, HAZU has addressed the public with several important statements, reacting to key issues concerning the preservation of Croatian national identity in accordance with its mission. He noted that Contributions to the protection of Croatian national interests during negotiations between the Republic of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia regarding their accession to the EU have had a significant impact in Croatia and neighboring countries.


After successfully completing structural renovation, the Croatian Music Institute (HGZ) continues with comprehensive restoration works, and it is expected to open with new programs that combine tradition and new technologies in the autumn of 2026, as announced at a press conference on Wednesday. After inspecting the works, the Minister of Culture and Media Nina Obuljen Koržinek said that the terrible tragedy that struck Zagreb and Petrinja also opened up the possibility for the renovation of many neglected but exceptionally valuable spaces. “We have undertaken the restoration of over 400 individual buildings in the northwest region of Croatia, and looking at the whole of around 1.5 billion euros from the Solidarity Fund, a third has been realized through the Ministry of Culture and Media,” she emphasized.

For the HGZ project, the Ministry has so far secured just under 30 million euros, and additional funds will be invested in equipping it upon completion of the second phase.



Donald Sutherland, one of Canada’s most versatile and gifted actors, who charmed and enthralled audiences in movies such as “M*A*S*H,” “Klute,” “Ordinary People” and “The Hunger Games,” has died at the age of 88. The actor, whose lengthy career spanned from the 1960s into the 2020s, died on Thursday, his son, actor Kiefer Sutherland, said on social media. A tall man with a deep voice, piercing blue eyes and a mischievous smile, Donald Sutherland switched effortlessly from character roles to romantic leads opposite the likes of Jane Fonda and Julie Christie. He also played his share of oddballs and villains throughout his career. One of the biggest stars in Hollywood in the 1970s, he remained in demand for film and TV projects into his 80s. Known for his unconventional looks and his versatility as an actor, Sutherland played a wide range of memorable characters.

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